Today, we are excited to announce that all Cloudflare customers now have full Registrar access, including the ability to register new domains.
Second, starting today — and over the course of the next few weeks — we will be introducing over 40 new top-level domains (TLDs). We’re starting with .uk, our most requested country code extension. Initially, customers will only be able to transfer in existing .uk domains from other registrars, but support for new registrations will become available within the next few weeks. In keeping with our at-cost model, .uk domains will be priced at the wholesale registry fee.
A short registrar primer
In the domain name world, there are two key players: registrars and registries. Understandably, the two are often confused. One way to look at it is that registries are the wholesalers and registrars are the retailers. Registries host the centralized database of registered domains within a TLD. They are responsible for establishing the policies and business rules for the TLD. They also set the wholesale price. Registrars sell domains to end users and manage those registrations on an ongoing basis. They set the retail fee, collect payment, provide customer support, and ensure registrations are renewed and kept up to date. They often provide complementary services such as DNS, web hosting, and email.
There are various “types” of registrars. Retail registrars primarily sell to SMBs and individuals. Corporate registrars typically provide services to large enterprises, and often offer brand protection and monitoring services. There are also registrars that focus on the reseller market, essentially enabling other companies to act as domain resellers.
Registrars typically interact with registries using a standard protocol called the Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP). While EPP is well-defined in various RFCs, each registry often has its own flavor and uses protocol extensions in support of their specific policies.
Where we started
Cloudflare has operated a registrar for many years. Initially, we became a registrar solely to manage and protect our own mission-critical domains. Over time, we began offering highly secure registration services to some of our customers as well. This evolved into our Custom Domain Protection service. This was a high-end niche service for customers with very specific needs. As we learned more about the registrar space, however, we wanted to expand this service to everyone. We believed that we could provide a highly secure, privacy-focused, and cost-effective registrar for everyone. So, in 2018 we announced the launch of Cloudflare Registrar.
There are two ways to have Cloudflare handle your domain registration: through the registration of a brand-new domain or through the transfer of an existing domain from another registrar. Unlike many new registrars starting from scratch, we had a large and sophisticated customer base. Our customers were already using our DNS services for domains they had registered through other registrars. So, we initially focused on helping them transfer existing domains to Cloudflare. At the time, we estimated that if our customers transferred all of their domains to us, they would collectively save over $50 million per year in registration fees.
And we’ve done just that. Since our launch in 2018, we have transferred in hundreds of thousands of domains. Collectively, it’s saved our customers millions of dollars in annual registration fees.
In 2020, new registrations were launched in beta. Access was first provided to our Biz, Pro, and Enterprise customers by default, and then over the following months we enabled several thousand additional customers who had previously expressed interest.
Transfers are not enough
Part of the reason why we launched our beta for new registrations was the excitement we saw around new domain registrations. Though we intentionally started only with domain transfers, folks began asking for new domain functionality almost immediately. We heard this initially from customers who hadn’t yet purchased a domain. Since they didn’t have anything to transfer in, they would have to go through the somewhat cumbersome process of registering a new domain with another provider and only then transfer their domain to Cloudflare.
As time went by, however, we began to hear requests from our existing Registrar customers.
After all, domain portfolios are not static. Companies, large and small, are continually updating their domain assets. Whether through the development of new products, expansion into new markets, M&A activities, or brand protection, the ability to register new domain names is vitally important. In Q2 of this year, there were 11.7 million new registrations in .com and .net alone. Cloudflare customers have registered over 2 million new domains through other registrars in the first half of this year alone. And these are just the ones we know about!
Today, we’re excited to open up new registrations to all of our customers. You no longer need to register new domains at another registrar and then transfer those domains to Cloudflare.
Registering a new domain
Registering a new domain is simple. Log into the Cloudflare dashboard and click Add a Site. In addition to adding an existing domain, you can now register a new one.
Start the registration process by entering the domain name or keyword into the search box, and we’ll provide a suggested list of available domains. After making your selection, you’ll need to select one of the plans (FREE is an option) and provide some basic information. Once you check out, we’ll create the zone and add the domain to your account. The entire process can be completed in less than a minute.
What about pricing? It’s important to note that our registrar pricing is “at-cost.” That means we charge our customers exactly what we pay the registry, plus any applicable ICANN transaction fees. In certain cases, the registry fees are in a currency other than US dollars. In those situations, we convert the price we charge our customer to USD based on the current exchange rate. As the exchange rate changes, we periodically update the USD price — but never more often than once per month.
It’s a big world
Beyond registering new domains, we’ve also recognized the need to expand the list of supported TLDs. Our customer base is already highly diverse and becoming even more so all the time. While .com is often considered the “king” of TLDs — especially within the U.S. — that’s not necessarily the case in other countries. Today, there are over 1,500 top-level domains. There are the legacy TLDs like .com, .net, and .org. There are also over 1,000 “new” TLDs such as .online, .live, and .cloud. There’s even .horse! And there are the country code TLDs, such as .uk, .in, and .au. In many areas of the world, the local country code TLD is much more popular than .com.
We believe we owe it to our customers to provide them with domains in the TLDs that work best for them. We have spent much of our effort in support of legacy and new TLDs. Now, we will be turning our focus towards supporting more country code TLDs.
In the coming weeks, you can expect to see us add over 40 new extensions, including .us, .co, .me, and .tv. You can also check out the full list of TLDs we currently support and dates for upcoming launches here.
In the coming months we will be adding even more new extensions, with a focus on country-codes such as .de, .in, .ca, and .au to name just a few. We’re also planning to support premium (non-standard) priced domains, as well as Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs).
It’s just another step on the road to building a better — and more inclusive — Internet. To learn more about Cloudflare Registrar and how to use it, visit our developer documentation.